Not every underdog has its day, but Madill alumni and Northeastern Oklahoma A&M offensive lineman Judge Hartin had his, Wednesday morning, signing his National Letter of Intent to play football at the University of Tulsa.

Not every underdog has its day, but Madill alumni and Northeastern Oklahoma A&M offensive lineman Judge Hartin had his, Wednesday morning, signing his National Letter of Intent to play football at the University of Tulsa.

The former Wildcat and Norseman standout committed to play for Tulsa in September, but made things official from the Madill High School Library in front of friends, family, Madill wrestling coach Jim Love and Madill Athletic Director Bink Stafford. 

Coming from Madill to a junior college, Hartin had a boulder sized chip on his shoulder. 

Surrounded by athletes from bigger cities, he had to prove that he belonged. At Tulsa, Hartin said he will do the same. 

“Getting to college, not many people had ever heard of Madill, so you play with a chip on your shoulder to show everyone that you’re not just some kid from a small town — you’re an accomplished player that could be just as good or better than they are,” Hartin said. 

“It’s going to be the same for me going to Tulsa. It’s the same deal, you play with a chip on your shoulder. That’s gotten me really far, never forgetting that I have to prove myself when everyone is expecting me to fail. It gets you a long way.”

Hartin’s ‘Madill mentality’ has driven him to Division I where he will play in Tulsa head coach Phil Montgomery’s pedal-to-the-metal spread offense.

NEO, which runs a nearly identical offense as Tulsa and averages around 102-110 offensive plays per game, has more than prepared Hartin for his transition to the Golden Hurricanes.

“I really won’t have to learn any plays, just the new calls,” he said. 

“I’m not your typical offensive lineman. A lot of people when they see me ask me if I’m a tight end, I’m a little bit skinnier even though I weigh just as much as an offensive lineman. I’m built the way I am because at NEO they like their offensive lineman to get downfield and run.”

“I’ll be very prepared at Tulsa from being in shape and knowing what to expect from the no-huddle offense.”

Hartin was no stranger to big time events while at Madill as he was a four-year starter for the Wildcats football team on the offensive and defensive lines as well as being a two-time state qualifer in wrestling. 

He also lettered in powerlifting and track. 

During his time at NEO he helped a prolific offense average 524.5 yards per game of total offense. He was also named as an All-Conference selection his sophomore year. 

The Golden Hurricanes are coming off a 2-10 season. 

In 2016, Tulsa went 10-3 and won the Miami Beach Bowl.

Beyond athletics, Hartin, a chemical engineering major saying Tulsa was a perfect fit. 

“Tulsa just had everything that I was looking for in a school,” he said. “Tulsa has one of the best educations you can get in the country, and coming from Madill, the campus is small with a low enrollment of about 4,000 students and at the same time it’s still a big Division I university. Plus, It’s close to home so my family can come watch me play.”

At NEO, Hartin said 150 players originally joined the team and by the time the season started the team had been whittled down to 60 players who travelled. 

He said going from making the travelling team and eventually being one of the players who made it to out of junior college to Division I is a relief.

“It’s like a weight’s been lifted off your shoulders — you can finally just breathe and be like, ‘I made it,” Hartin said. “There’s a bigger number of guys who mess up or something goes wrong and it doesn’t work out for them. To be one of those guys who made it feels really good.”

While Hartin’s not sure if he’ll continue his ascent up the football ladder and pursue the game at the NFL level, which he described as standing for ‘Not For Long’ he said if the opportunity presents itself, he’ll pursue it, and if not he’ll always have his degree. 

“If they said if I could work a little harder and it could be a possibility then it would be something I would try for, but really, my biggest thing is to get my education,” Hartim said. “To get your school paid for is such a blessing, it’s an opportunity you never want to pass up and for me I get to play a game I love every day.”